My best memory of Christmas was when I was 10 years old and received gifts for the very first time.  The generosity of God was expressed to me through people I did not know and it has nurtured in me a heart of gratitude and a desire to give.  Today, I find great delight in giving to others because of what God has done for me.  It hasn’t always been easy to give when there are things I would like to have but I give because of God’s generosity towards me. 

I came to this country empty handed and have received abundant blessings which has helped me to understand the value of giving.  My husband was raised in a Christian home and his mom was a generous giver who instilled the value of giving in her children.  Together, my husband and I enjoy giving but we have not always given sacrificially.  Before we had children, we enjoyed financial comfort but did not manage God’s money wisely.  It wasn’t until we learned about sacrificial giving from teaching pastor, Chip Ingram of Living on the Edge and read Randy Alcorn’s book, “The Treasure Principle” (Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving) that we understood God’s purpose for giving.  These tools taught us critical lessons in living a disciplined life so that we can be faithful with God’s resources especially on one income.   

Living a disciplined life is challenging because this world offers many enticements, luring us away from God.  If we are not diligent in guarding our hearts and minds, we will give in to the pressure to consume instead of to give.  To this end, it is crucial that we spend time getting to know God.  The closer we get to God, the more we will believe what he says and do what he asks of us.  This faith then will propel us into acting on what we believe.  And unless our trust in God leads to action, we will not see his divine power at work.  We will miss the supernatural works of God in our limitations. 

My husband and I have witnessed God’s supernatural power in our circumstances when we trust with abandon.  As we are faithful with his resources, God gives us what we need consistently.  From Chip Ingram, we’ve learned not to choose our own prosperity and comfort over doing God’s work.  This means that we’ve had to give up personal desires in order to put God first.  And we give sacrificially because we understand that nothing we have belongs to us but everything on earth belongs to God.  It definitely hurts to give sacrificially because we have to forfeit the things we want!  Let me say that again.  It definitely hurts to give sacrificially because we have to forfeit the things we want!  But with practice, it becomes easier to give in this way.  And when God gives us more resources, we apply Randy Alcorn’s principle of “increasing our standard of giving instead of increasing our standard of living”.

How hard it is to not increase our standard of living when everyone else is doing it around us!  A few months ago, we committed to increase our church giving to 18% and now God is testing our faithfulness.  I share this not to boast about what we are doing but rather to boast of what God is doing in and through us as we rely completely on him.  God doesn’t need what I have because he owns everything in this world!  He created everything and has access to it all the time.  It isn’t that he can’t or doesn’t want to give me the things I want.  Rather, God is concerned about the condition of my heart.  He wants me to treasure him and not the things he has given me.  Here’s an important truth I’ve learned in this time of testing:  Giving sacrificially requires that we trust in God as our source for all provisions.  And unless we believe God is the source of our provisions, we will not give sacrificially.